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A Little About β-Caryophyllene, CBD, and Bud Rub

By far one of the most asked questions I have had over the years is 'how much CBD is in the product'? The need to ask about CBD bordered on being a kind of collective Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and at times was a bit irksome to me. It wasn't always that way but during the years leading up to the passing of the Cannabis Act when CBD was promoted as being the be-all and end-all of medicine by a multitude of hawkers, this was the case. Many people would be astonished when I told them I didn't use CBD. It was a kind of heresy to make a cannabis forward product and not include CBD! One activist who also made topical cannabis products once stated when I told him that Bud Rub didn't have CBD that my product, therefore, didn't have any active ingredients. I'm certain he was well aware of the medicinal properties of terpenes but making a product that didn't promote CBD wasn't okay when this was the new darling child of the cannabis legalization movement. Don't misunderstand me, I think CBD and the multitude of cannabinoids we've ignored for decades deserve a place in the modern and traditional pharmacopeias. My interest was, however, in the terpenes and in particular, β-caryophyllene.

β-caryophyllene or BCP is the terpene second most in concentration in the hemp plant. It is second only to Myrcene another medicinally valuable terpene. Unlike Myrcene though, BCP interacts with the endocannabinoid system and in particular it is what is known as a CB2 agonist. CB2 is a class of receptors found in many tissues that other cannabinoids act on pharmacologically. BCP is a full agonist and this means the receptor is fully activated when exposed to this terpene. One of the nice things about BCP (and many other terpenes) is that it is well absorbed by the skin to reach sore joints and muscles. Classic cannabinoids cannot make this claim and are in fact poorly absorbed through the skin even with penetration enhancers like BCP. Even if CBD could be absorbed as well it has another handicap when utilized this way. It also isn't a full agonist of the CB2 receptor. CBD is involved in healing and provides health benefits in other ways, but when it comes to immediate relief our experience shows that BCP is a superior "active ingredient" choice. It is for this reason Bud Rub has always relied on BCP as its primary ingredient.

Bud Rub's use of Hemp Essential Oil as the source of BCP took an unfortunate turn during the excitement of Cannabis "legalization". It is unfortunate that when the Cannabis Act was passed there were amendments made to the Industrial Hemp Act at the same time. Some fanfare was made about loosening regulations for hemp farmers such as allowing for smaller hemp farms in order to expand the production of hemp. Prior to this, in move typical of Ottawa, hemp farms were only licensed with very large acreages, effectively limiting production of the commodity in order to facilitate Ottawa keeping a close eye on these dangerous radicals who dared to grow hemp. An amendment that did not get any fanfare, however, was a change to the description of what parts of the plant could be used by those who did not have a Cannabis license. Canadian hemp farmers were always restricted in this manner but it was not illegal or restricted to import Cannabis commodities as long as they were below 10 ppm in THC. The amendment tightened up this loophole. NO doubt his was a response to the overzealous CBD marketers. A retaliation perhaps. Lumped in with this amendment was hemp essential oil (HEO). HEO is the blend of terpenes that give hemp its unique fragrance. These volatile medicinal compounds aren't psychoactive like THC, and chemically bear no resemblance to any of the classic cannabinoids. Hemp essential oil also contains no unique terpenes, its mix being composed of those compounds found in many other plants. What makes the essential oil different from others is the particular blend found only in hemp. It strains the imagination to understand why the federal government decided that this product of the hemp plant should be so heavily restricted that it can only be made available by prescription and handled only by those with a license under the Cannabis Act. Effectively this will keep HEO off the market in Canada for many years to come. Sure those with licenses granted under the Cannabis Act could start making products with HEO, but I expect it will be unlikely in the short term when their focus is on turning a profit for their shareholder by selling pot to get people high. Other jurisdictions such as the US, France, Switzerland, and Italy do allow it with little to no special licensing giving Americans better access to this hemp product. Canada seems more akin to Communist China in this regard. China, in spite of being the world's largest producer of hemp has banned its use in cosmetics and even made possession of the seeds illegal. One has to wonder who the decision makers in Ottawa represent when they are making these ridiculous and heavy handed decisions?

At that time Bud Rub was forced to phase out hemp essential oil as its source of β-caryophyllene. Importing it became problematic (Canadian hemp farmers aren't allowed to produce it here!) and at one point I received a threatening letter from the US Department of Homeland Security letting me know they would be taking action for importing the commodity. Simultaneously my essential oil was seized by them and the Canadian Border Services Agency thought it made sense to charge me duty on the empty shipping box. Other than that nothing happened but it did tell me I needed to switch to another source of BCP. It was time to make a change and derive the compound from clove. Clove is incredibly rich in this compound and is likely responsible for much of clove's analgesic action. The terpene is separated from the other compounds in clove essential oil to avoid the clove scent and reduce the irritation present in clove essential oil. B-Caryophyllene is also found in many other compounds and we consume it daily. This may be from black pepper, hops, cinnamon, and oregano. I use clove simply because it is the most economical source. Of course I would go back to using hemp essential oil in a heartbeat if Ottawa would get out of the way.

Many users of Bud Rub have benefited from this remarkable and nearly ubiquitous terpene. β-caryophyllene has many benefits and humanity is only just beginning to discover what it can do for us medicinally and otherwise. The compound is a good pain reliever, is anti-microbial, has the potential to heal gastric ulcers, treat seizures and many others. If you are interested in learning more about this compound that is critical to Bud Rub's effectiveness I encourage people to do some research and reading. Below are a few links to sources on the subject.

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